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National Caretaker Appreciation Day

The National Caretaker Appreciation Day (NCAD) events held across the country from July 20 to 22 were well received and deemed very successful by organizers, industry participants, tracks, associations, and, most importantly, the caretakers.

Twelve racetracks across Canada hosted events this past weekend for NCAD, a new project co-ordinated by Standardbred Canada, and announced in May of this year. Two tracks, Clinton and Dresden Raceways in Ontario, have rescheduled their events to next Sunday, July 29 as racing was cancelled due to inclement weather. Several tracks that do not operate in the summer are already in the planning stages for fall events.

“Given the amazing responses and positive feedback we’ve received, we are hoping this will be an annual event,” said Kathy Wade Vlaar, Manager of Industry Marketing. “How great was it to hear the names of the people who spend the most time with the horses announced in post parades and winner’s circle celebrations? A huge thanks to everyone who helped to make this event the success it was!”

Sarah Lauren Scott, who worked with SC to get the initiative off of the ground, was the primary organizer of the Woodbine Mohawk Park event. “I am so honoured to be a part of this special achievement,” said Scott. “Having been a caretaker for many years, I felt passionate about assisting any way I could. I am my toughest critic, and then I read a comment on social media that read, “the feeling in the paddock was electric,” and I felt completely satisfied.

“Congratulations to all caretakers and this year’s award recipients. I also have to thank all of the race sponsors, gift donors and volunteers we had to make the evening run smoothly; we couldn’t have done it without you!”

Marissa Klein at Century Downs (Photo courtesy Century Downs / Facebook)

Caretakers, the foundation of our industry, were recognized and rewarded in many different ways at the racetracks, and many put their own unique touches on their events but most featured:

? Recognition of all caretakers racing horses on the day’s card – announcement of names during post parades and or winner’s circle; group photos of caretakers
? Awards or prizes for caretakers of winning horses
? Refreshments and a gift for all caretakers racing on the day’s card
? Recognition certificates, draw prizes and more

In the paddock at Red Shores Racetrack & Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park (Photo courtesy Frankie L)

Participating tracks this past weekend included Century Downs Racetrack & Casino, Grand River Raceway, Hanover Raceway, Hiawatha Horse Park, Hippodrome 3R, Kawartha Downs, Northside Downs, Red Shores – Charlottetown Driving Park and Summerside locations, Rideau Carleton Raceway, Truro Raceway and Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Here’s what some of the caretakers had to say about the events that took place:

“Why do we do it? It’s because as caretakers, we deeply care about the racehorse itself and obviously we love what we do. Without our caretakers, our industry wouldn’t exist. It was great to have the support of local business and horsemen to put the event forth. A special thanks to Chantel and Arleen Gillis for their volunteer efforts in making sure our caretakers were looked after on National Caretaker Appreciation Day.” – Tammy MacKay (Facebook)

“I was lucky enough to be in the Woodbine Mohawk Park paddock during National Caretaker Appreciation Day. It wasn’t like all the other Saturday nights I have been there, there was a buzz in the air, it was special. That little bit of recognition each caretaker received for all their hours of hard work was extraordinary. Sarah Scott deserves a huge shout out for all the work she put into making the evening extra special for all of us. It will only get bigger and better in the coming years. Thank you!” – Ben Hollingsworth

“Behind the scenes is hard work. All caretakers sure are the unsung heroes. Until you are one, you have no idea how much they do.” – Nicole D. (Twitter)

“We all are lucky to work with these amazing animals.” – Lynn Cameron (Facebook)

“Today the owner of the farm where I work gave me a bonus, with a card saying, ‘Happy National Caretaker Appreciation Day! I appreciate everything you do!’ And I really appreciated that! – Heather H.

"Caretaker Day at Century Downs went very well and the gift bags that were handed out to the grooms whose horses won was such a good touch." – Ashley Hudon

“An awesome job tonight making sure everyone that is involved day in and day out got appreciated for what they do!!!” – Dawn Ellis – Truro (Facebook)

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